Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada announced on Friday the Government of Canada has delivered on its commitment to lower cellphone wireless plans by 25%.
Back in March 2020, the government said it would be tracking mid-range cellphone plans over two years, to ensure the 25% reduction would take place. At the time, Ottawa said it would “take action with other regulatory tools to further increase competition and help reduce prices,” if the action was not met.
The Trudeau government also leveraged the wireless promise as part of its re-election platform.
The government’s price tracker has since stated, “to help Canadians get more affordable telecommunications services, Bell, TELUS and Rogers (across their brands) will be expected to lower their prices. For cellphone plans that offer 2 to 6 GB of data, the three national carriers are expected to lower their prices by 25 percent in the next two years,” said the government.
Fast forward to today, François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, says Ottawa has now “met its target three months ahead of schedule,” noting mid-range plans have dropped by 25% compared to prices from two years ago, based on its most recent quarterly data.
The feds say as of December 2021, “prices for these Fido, Koodo and Virgin Plus plans across Canada have decreased by 25% compared to benchmark prices.” The plan to track these mid-range plans will end in March 2022.
“In 2022, it’s simply a matter of fairness that all Canadians be connected at a price they can afford. Our government has met its commitment to reduce the costs of cell phone plans by 25%, but we won’t stop there, because Canadians still pay too much for their Internet and cell phones. We’ll continue to push aggressively to generate innovation, improve coverage and reduce the costs of telecommunications services using every tool we have,” said Champagne in a statement.
According to ISED, it will continue to “pursue policies to make wireless services more affordable, including through spectrum policies.”
The federal government says these benchmark plans “continue to reflect Canadians’ average data usage,” noting 3.8GB of data was the average use in 2020.
According to the Statistics Canada cellular services price index, wireless prices have dropped 27% from February 2020 to December 2021. For plans with 10GB or higher, prices have decreased roughly 22 to 26%; in 2019, price reductions for these 10GB plans had dropped 31%, says the government.
The price tracking only covered plans with 2 to 6GB data, but not ‘unlimited’ data plans in Canada, which currently start at $80 per month and include 5G network access, across Rogers, Telus and Bell. Recent studies have pegged 20GB of wireless data in Canada is the most expensive in the world.